Eschatology escalates at Temple Mount

Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel (of the religious HaBayit HaYehudi or Jewish Home party) alarmingly said Nov. 4 that Israel will eventually replace al-Aqsa Mosque with a Jewish temple. According to the Middle East Monitor, Ariel told radio station Kol Berama, voice the ultra-orthodox Shas movement, the status quo cannot continue at al-Aqsa as it "was built in the place of the holiest place for Israel." Ariel said that construction of a third Jewish temple at the site is the primary demand of the Torah, "as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation." This was apparently Ariel's response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for "all Knesset members to calm tensions regarding the Temple Mount and show responsibility and restraint." We have not heard that Netanyahu has scolded Ariel or disavowed his comment.

All of this comes in the aftermath of last week's clashes in occupied East Jerusalem after the suspected gunman in the attempted assassination of far-right activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot dead by Israeli security forces near his house in the Abu Tor neighborhood. The body of Moataz Hejazi—a convicted member of Islamic Jihad who served 11 years in Israeli prisons—was seen by neighbors lying in a pool of blood on the rooftop of his house.

Glick, a US-born settler, was shot Oct. 29 as he left a conference at Jerusalem's Menachem Begin Heritage Center, where he was attending a conference on the future of the Temple Mount. His assailant escaped on the back of a motorcycle. Israeli authorities subsequently sealed off the holy site, causing their Palestiniain President Mahmoud Abbas (who had made his own unhelpful comments in the prelude to the escalation) to say that the closure of the site was "almost a declaration of war." (IBT, Nov. 4; Reuters, Oct. 30)

The blog Bartholomew's Notes on Religion documents how the Jewish press is airing protestations that Glick is not an "extremist." The Forward quotes Haaretz columnist Roy (Chicky) Arad as saying that Glick, who was wounded in the attack, "is an exceptional right-wing activist, who also befriends secular Jews and left-wingers. In contrast to (right-wing lawmaker Moshe) Feiglin, who insists that visits to the Temple Mount should not be regarded as part of the discourse on human rights but rather as an issue of Israeli sovereignty, Glick views the matter as a question of freedom of worship for members of all religions, so he manages to reach a broader audience."

We have noted the genocidal proclivities of Moshe Feiglin. And Bartholomew notes that, contrary to what you'd glean from Arad's quote, "Glick is associated with Feiglin: the attempted murder occurred in the presence of Feiglin’s aide, and occurred as Glick was leaving a meeting on the subject of the Temple in which Feiglin had also taken part. And it's impossible to divorce Glick's wish for 'allowing all prayers there' and the political reality that such a provision would represent an Israeli encroachment at a time of continuing conflict." This reality was even acknowledged by The Economist in its coverage of the latest flare-up:

In the ever-contested ground of the Holy Land, prayer is not just an act of personal devotion: it implies ownership. Jews were allowed to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, another contested city. But when a settler massacred Palestinians in 1994, the site was divided into Jewish and Muslim areas. Palestinians fear a similar cycle of provocation, violence and concession to Jewish radicals in Jerusalem.

Bartholomew reminds us of the Chrisitian-Zionist alliance that has emerged around the cherished dream of a Third Temple—linked by the Christians to biblical end-of-the-worldery

There are strands within Judaism and Christianity that look forward to the destruction of the Islamic structures on the site: in 1969, a mentally-disturbed follower of Herbert Armstrong attempted to burn down al-Aqsa, and in the 1980s a group of Israeli extremists plotted to blow up the structures at the site. In 2007, a "Night to Honor Israel" organised by Christians United for Israel in the USA included one speaker who said that God had told her "that Dome is coming down." This is not Glick's intention, but it shows there are practical risks involved.

Bartholomew also notes that Glick was interviewed last year for an apocalyptic documentary by "Glenn Beck's End-Times Prophet," Joel Richardson, who wrote:

Rabbi Glick is a courageous man of faith, but he is most certainly not an extremist. He is a man of peace. The extremists are not only those who sought to take Glick's life, but also the left wing media that have cast Glick as a radical right-wing agitator before they even took the time to know who he really is. Let us pray that he comes to know Yeshua the Messiah.

Heh. As Bartholomew wryly adds, "I wonder how that last sentence will go down." That really speaks to the conservative Christian's contradictory view of Jews—God's Chosen People, who are sinfully defying God. This alliance shows up again how Zionism—especially this most reactionary manifestation of it—is inimical to Jewish enlightened self-interest.

Every Jew on Earth has an urgent responsibility to repudiate these designs on the Temple Mount, as represented by Ariel and Glick alike.

  1. Knesset imbroglio over ‘fascist’ accusation

    A Palestinian Knesset member, Jamal Zahalka (Balad), was forcibly removed from the podium and dragged out of the Knesset plenary Nov. 24 after he called Moshe Feiglin (Likud) a "fascist." Some Knesset members stood up in protest of the move, yelling at Feiglin, who served as speaker of the body for the day and made the call for Zahalka's removal. When Zahalka was nearly outside of the chamber, Feiglin said he only meant for him to be removed off the stand. Zahalka was still escorted out but got back in a brief moment later to join the protest that had erupted and resulted in chaos.

    Zahalka’s accuation concerned the pending nationality law which would define the state of Israel primarily as “the national homeland of the Jewish people” instead of “Jewish and democratic.” (The Forward)